Must make OOH likeable: Daniela Krautsack

13 Oct,2011

Mainstream advertising is going non-traditional; print media has caught up with viral; it is a manifestation of media in which the logical conclusion seems to be 360° surveillance.

How does the consumer cope with the futuristic outlook of a media world in which everything seems to be public and nothing is private any more? Does the media industry’s guiding light of ‘branded utility’ justify an unlimited use of hi-tech chips and codes? Who are the consumers that voluntarily jump on the ambient media bandwagon?

Daniela Krautsack, Media Innovation Strategist, Managing Director, Cows In Jackets, talks about today’s global media trends and visions with a critical eye on their creation, their degree of popularity and their lifespan in an interview with Nibha.


Q: When did you discover your passion for the non-traditional form of out-of-home media?

It was about a decade ago when I moved from dreamy but advertising ‘old-school’ in Vienna to London. The company transfer within the MediaCom group offered me three simple things: to watch, listen and learn how international media strategy & co-ordination is done. Today, when I look back, I know how lucky I was. “To be at the right time, at the right place.”

The ‘Find Your London in Yellow Pages’ campaign got me ‘in touch’ with many new forms of media when I travelled from my home in Belsize Park to work in Soho. From the moment that I walked into the station to the moment I walked into our office door, I was touched by ‘The yellow pages points’.

The company had advertised on the backside of my ticket and even on the wallet that protected it. The entire train and its seat interior were covered in bright yellow design. Never having experienced transit media in this scope before, I felt intrigued to find out more. That was the moment when my exploration started.


Q: Does the OOH media industry’s guiding lights of branded utility justify an unlimited use of hi-tech chips and codes?

I would like to define that term ‘branded utility’ first: it means that brands or ideas are genuinely useful to the people they touch. So, how useful are codes and chips and do they ‘touch’? The integration of codes in OOH media in countries such as Japan where I experienced the use of QR (= quick response; a two-dimensional bar code) and other 2- and 3-dimensional codes years ago has not spread considerably across the world – yet. My experience is that the percentage of mobile phone users that have an application installed which allows reading a QR code, has not even in Japan reached the mass. The use outside of Japan is still insignificantly small in order to consider an OOH campaign that would achieve reasonable results. At present, QR codes can be rated as the best and most effective technology for mobile data capture. What I like about it so much is the thought of reducing OOH media to its core function, the visual transfer of a brand and product image with the focus on “image” rather than “text”. Including a QR code within the design of an advertising campaign that uses billboard or any other ambient OOH form allows a “pull” interaction by the recipient of the message. QR technically allows future billboard designs to use significantly less space to transfer lots of information. If interested in the message, people will connect.

So, returning to your question: Every way that ‘helps’ the community – and this touches current trends such as “economy of time” symbolizing our aim to efficiently manage time – will be embraced and appreciated. I personally do not fear an unlimited use of this code technology. At the moment companies use codes and chips within their communications strategies predominately to play with people’s curiosity and the media’s enthusiasm and willingness to publish these ‘media-first’s’.


Q: Who according to you are the consumers that voluntarily jump on the speed media bandwagon?

I am always quite amused to see how small the number of people is that jump on the media bandwagon. When I visualize this ‘future train’, I only count the number of passengers with two hands. I have just been to a party with a crowd of 20- to 40-year olds, people that you could describe as pretty normal when it comes to adopting trends such as the latest technology and fashion and during a discussion, someone asked: “What is a podcast?” I looked around, astonished to experience this lack of contemporary knowledge. I had to realize that only a handful of people knew that a podcast is a word fusion of the word iPod and broadcast, that it is a digital media file and that podcasts allow you to download or stream content about any topic you care about.

The consumers who are the clever cookies when it comes to being updated of what’s going on around the world in society, culture and technology are those who jump on. And we don’t necessarily only speak about the ‘young’ crowd. They just adapt easier to new technology because they don’t think about it as much as an older, more experienced media consumer.


Q: According to you how does the consumer cope with the futuristic outlook of a media world in which everything seems to be public and nothing is private any more? Panopticon or individual freedom of expression?

When I observe the mood and listen to the opinions of people who share their thoughts about the ‘media’ world we live in, I notice that they appreciate the increased opportunity to express themselves, but they are also aware of being monitored. This place can be visualized as a panopticon. We still have a choice to publically plead for a higher sensibility and reluctance to give out personal data to somebody we do not know. The careless behavior of our society to wildly publish every intimate fact bears a huge risk of violating our private sphere.


Q: What has been your greatest challenge in ambient media?

Convincing clients who were very sceptical towards this media form. The other one was the launching of a communications agency, ie  entirely dedicated to ambient media and non-traditional strategies and that too at  a time where taking the risk and trying out new things in communications planning wasn’t fashionable.


Q: How do you define third place marketing and creativity in the OOH media?

While ‘first places” represent “the home”, a place that I decorate and feel comfortable living in and ‘second places” the ambience of work, ‘third places’ are landmarks with a core attraction of such extraordinary extent that seeing them is an absolute must; thus talk-of-town organically develops. Third places can be museums, wide-open spaces but also supermarkets and shopping malls. They come to life with light, video projections and special installations. These venues feature an emotionally charged ambience and for which there is no admission fee. Without creativity, I dare to say, a third place doesn’t exist. Creativity is one of the cornerstones of the third place foundation. And OOH media logically benefits from the strength of such an eye-catching place.


Q: What all factors do you take into account when you make a media strategy, which involves innovation in the ambient media?

• The objectives of the campaign

•  The demographics/psychographics, moods and opinions of the target group

• The brand status

• The competitors’ activity

• The creative execution

• The budget

• Innovative technologies or never used before ideas, techniques or material

• A measurement tool / method


Q: According to you what is the approximate share of ambient media advertising in terms of ad spend when compared to the total ad spend in the OOH media?

Considering the different definitions of ambient media (in the UK, the media industry does not even use this term anymore, they call it non-traditional OOH or brand experience or shopper marketing or stunt, etc) worldwide, I can only give a rough estimate. I just looked at the OOH share in Austria, the UK, Mexico and India and it is quite similar, roughly between 5.5 percent to 7.6 percent, Mexico showing the smallest share and India the highest OOH share.

While ambient media is a category still not being monitored in most countries in the world, the UK reports approximately a share of 6 percent. This however does not consider guerilla, ambush and experiential marketing, sampling, promotions and events. It is clear though that this is a category that will continue to grow.


Q: How do you see the scope of ambient media in South-East Asian countries and Africa and where does India stand among all?

Overall speaking there is a large potential for ambient media throughout Asia and Africa. Whereas we experience a counter movement by ‘the new’ traditionalist opinion leaders in cities across Europe and the United States that plead and demonstrate for an advertising-free ambience, the outdoor category overall is growing. We are challenged to create OOH media not only in a more visually attractive way but also in one that is considered as a “useful” platform again, e.g. as an information platform that hopefully focuses on core images and incorporates technological measures (e.g. code technology) to allow information to be picked-up when needed. The important model for the future is to position OOH media as “a likeable platform” that interacts with the life of city inhabitants; media to stimulate opinions and thoughts, to inform and to entertain.

Due to its high level of ambient media activity, Thailand has become a role model for non-traditional media in the Southeast-Asian market. Some of the award winning ambient media campaigns were developed in Bangkok and rolled out across Asia. According to my own observation in India as well as the opinion of local media experts, the potential for ambient media in India is considerable. The biggest challenge for India is not the lack of investment or funds – it is about finding clever solutions to scale ideas across India and the increase execution opportunities outside main metro-cities.

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